It’s always exciting to see a new programme get started, and last week was no exception.
A brand new training course with twenty new coaches and a new curriculum took place at Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in Nairobi, using football coaching to deliver information about Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (V/MMC), HIV testing and condom use. V/MMC is a recommendation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in countries with high HIV prevalence, and is being used as one of the tools in the fight against HIV. The programme is being funded by PEPFAR as part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge with JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. as the Funds Manager for this award .
It’s rarely discussed but a man’s foreksin is an ideal place for infection to enter and hide, and removing it through Medical Male Circumcision offers men partial life-long protection against female-to-male transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). On the course, we used a fun visual representation so the MYSA coaches could understand how this works. The coach in the middle is the head of the penis. The coaches around the edge are the foreskin. During sex, the friction can mean the foreskin can easily tear, offering small entry points for infection. In our demonstration here, the foreskin actors unlinked arms, and let some infection in.
It’s important to remember however, that V/MMC will only partially protect men from infection, and so it’s essential to also use condoms correctly and consistently during sex. Coaches therefore also learnt correct condom usage, using penile demonstrations.
Outside of the classroom workshops, five new football drills were learnt on these topics, and the coaches ended the week ready to return to their teams and pass on the sexual health information to their communities!
A huge thanks to all the coaches and facilitators of this exciting new programme, one of the very first in Africa to address V/MMC through football. We look forward to seeing the impact of these drills over the next two years.
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